Tag Archives: Energy Star

Stretch Your Budget the Furthest

By Brad Fletcher, Energy Analyst 

When a homeowner engages in energy efficiency upgrades on their home, the list of possibilities can sometimes feel exhausting. Unlike a kitchen upgrade or the addition of a bedroom, a whole house energy efficiency plan may be designed and executed over an extended period of time. An energy professional will help homeowners find the incentives and/or rebates available for the upgrades they recommend. Homeowners, with the help of an energy professional, typically develop a hierarchy of upgrades based on the cost effectiveness of each improvement for the home. Here are a few to start with:

Air sealing and insulating the home is an investment ranging from $50-$2000. Keeping the heat in and the cold out makes practical sense and is often the upgrade that stretches the homeowner’s dollar furthest.

Replacing the lighting with higher efficiency bulbs such as Compact Fluorescent Lighting (CFL) or Light Emitting Diodes (LED) can cost between $5-$50 per fixture and result in a short payback period making this investment a no brainer.

In a typical home, the heating and air conditioning system(s) consume the most energy and cost the most to operate. Upgrades to the HVAC system can result in considerable savings. Improving the mechanical system can include duct sealing, thermostat replacement, cleaning and tuning or in some cases, replacement with a more efficient system.  These improvements can range from $50-$3000 depending on the size of the home and extent of improvements.

Replacing water fixtures may seem like an unlikely way to save energy, but installing low-water usage or aerated fixtures in your kitchen and bathroom will reduce the amount of hot water needing to be generated by a home’s water heating system. Improving the efficiency of faucets and shower heads can range from $2-$200 and save both energy and water.

Older kitchen appliances can consume much more energy than newer, Energy Star rated appliances. Replacing old appliances that have become one of your home’s largest energy hogs will not only cut your total energy cost, but improve the look of your kitchen as well! A combination of dishwasher and refrigerator replacement range from $1500-$3000.

While there are abundant opportunities to improve the efficiency of an existing home, there are even more possibilities that exist in new home construction. This is due to both the technology that can be applied during the construction process as well as the ‘blank slate’ approach where builders can utilize more stringent standards and design features to improve the energy efficiency of your house. When constructing a new home, be sure to speak with your builder about how they can help reduce the cost of operating the home.

If you’re building a new home or doing energy upgrades to your current home, an energy professional can work with contractors and homeowners to calculate which upgrades provide the homeowner with the biggest bang for their buck. Beautiful light fixtures and stunning floor coverings are amenities you are able to see every day while energy efficiency is an amenity you can also feel and see on your monthly utility bills. With a wide range of upfront investment possibilities, energy efficiency is the only investment that will pay you back!


Increasing Profits by Going Green at a Multifamily Property

Craig Whittaker is president of ESG Energy, which was recently named a ‘Top 300 Small Business in the South’ by Business Leader Media. ESG Energy has grown to become one of the nation’s leading green building consulting firms by helping builders and property owners understand the value of green construction.

With 80 million Gen Y-ers expected to flood the rental market over the next ten years, multifamily property owners will want to find new and innovative ways to attract environmentally-conscious renters. In a previous post at this blog, we highlighted surprising industry research indicating that 89% of tenants are willing to pay up to $50 more each month in rent in order to reap the benefits of energy efficiency housing.

While the numbers look enticing, many apartment owners are reluctant to spend money on energy efficient retrofits and new construction. Although the figures of actual savings are preliminary, an article in Apartment Finance Today found that a few specific strategies for implementing green investments are showing positive results.


One of the best ways owners can increase attention to their apartments is to effectively market their green initiatives and resulting energy savings. A growing number of multifamily companies are using the energy efficient and green certifications earned by their properties as marketing tools to brand their communities as eco-friendly. For example, one owner is charging $40 more a month for their green-rated apartments that will save the tenant an average of $50 each month on electric and water bills. The occupancy rate at the energy efficient properties is significantly higher, so going green is obviously a win-win for owner and tenant.

Common Areas

Another way owners are saving money is through efficiency upgrades at common areas of the property. Lighting is a very effective upgrade that can reduce costs without sacrificing safety. An apartment complex with 150 retrofitted fixtures in common areas can begin to realize savings in as little as two months. A green building is simply less expensive to operate, and savings can be shared with tenants if desired.

Property Value

Probably the most significant financial benefit of green retrofits is the added value at time of sale. Achieving third-party certification for energy upgrades will especially increase the overall value, making the property more attractive to buyers. Green certifications are available through the EPA’s ENERGY STAR program, the NAHB Research Center’s National Green Building Standard, and the USGBC’s LEED program. Apartment owners should also note that the EPA is currently developing a scale that will be used to compare properties and give lenders the much sought-after metrics they want to see.

The bottom line is that green and energy efficient apartments are solidly in the future of multifamily development. Are you on board?

Steve Armstrong in the NCEEA Blog

The North Carolina Energy Efficiency Alliance has written a blog item about ESG’s Steve Armstrong.